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Open meetings necessary for public business

By a 4-3 vote Tuesday night, the Selma City Council held an executive session to talk about missing cars and money from the Selma Police Department — issues that had been well aired in public. However, Chief William Riley was on the carpet and some council members apparently wanted to talk openly.

The reason given for going into closed-door session was “good name and character and pending litigation.” Good name and character is a valid reason for calling for the session, but the Manual for Alabama Public Officials gives with that reason a general rule.

“Discussions concerning an individual’s ‘general reputation and character’ are subject to executive session for all individuals — except when the discussion (also) concerns the individual’s ‘job performance,” i.e. observed activities on the job of certain high level public employees and officials.”

Now, based on what council members were willing to tell The Selma Times-Journal as they came out of the closed-door session; they wanted to discuss the Cadillac and why Riley had not been forthcoming with them when asked the first time.

All of this could have been avoided if the council had the courage to hold public hearings about the missing cars and cash.

Facts are nobody is surprised by this chain of events. The executive session was not needed.

Once again, we ask the majority of council members to conduct the public’s business in the open sunshine, where everyone is held responsible.